DS Smith trials use of seaweed, cocoa shells and daisies for packaging

Packaging manufacturer DS Smith is trialling a range of packaging made using alternative fibres – including straw, hemp, cocoa shells, daisies and seaweed. If successful, the materials will be used in its paper and packaging making process.

Paper and cardboard packagingThe company is exploring the use of seaweed as a raw material to design out problem plastics from carton, paper wrap, and cardboard tray packaging. The DS Smith Innovation Team has also experimented with cocoa shells for carton board in chocolate packaging.

Other areas of focus include agricultural waste in the form of straw, and annual plants like hemp, daisies or miscanthus, which in some cases might be more energy-efficient than some current paper-making materials. Novel processes have indicated they may use up to 50 per cent less energy and 95 per cent less water than traditional pulping processes.

The trial is being conducted alongside The Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), which has explored the properties of straw and seaweed as a packaging solution in comparison to traditional materials like recycled hardwood and softwood.

The work forms part of DS Smith’s R&D and Innovation plan, which explores the replacement capabilities of a number of materials with good environmental profiles in an attempt to diversify the company’s sources.

Paper and Board Development Director at DS Smith, Thomas Ferge, said: “With the strain on the planet more evident than ever, our research has the potential to lessen pressure on forests and protect the planet’s natural resources.

“As well as looking at how we optimise the standard recycled paper fibres that we already use, we’re very excited by the prospect of how other resources such as miscanthus, hemp, agricultural wastes and seaweed could be used in the next generation of packaging solutions. This is all part of our goal to make the most of every single fibre we use by 2030.”